State Rep. Dennis Paul, R-Houston, spoke during a Bay Area Houston Transportation Partnership webinar Aug. 24 about the upcoming session and the issues legislators may address.
For one, due to COVID-19, the upcoming state budget will be extra tight, Paul said.
The state comptroller has indicated the budget will be $4.6 billion smaller than the last budget, at least in part due to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, he said.
State agencies have been told to cut spending by 5% across the board. Legislators hope that will make the hole less deep than they think when the session begins early next year, Paul said.
"The economy’s taken a real bad hit, but things are progressing," he said, noting the stock market is climbing again while unemployment is dropping.
Of course, Bay Area residents are concerned about coastal protection from hurricanes and tropical storms, especially with two forming in the Gulf of Mexico, Paul said.
"The storm coming this in this week is gonna show how bad we need that," he said.
Three industrial areas around the state received $4 billion in federal funding for coastal protection after a $1.6 billion local match. Those projects, which Paul did not share details on, may demonstrate the need for a large-scale project in the form of a coastal barrier across Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula, Paul said.
Legislators are ready to push for coastal spine protection, and Paul hopes a disaster this week is not required to show how dire the need is, he said.
"We’re gonna do whatever we can to get that done," Paul said of the coastal barrier project. "I think this project is gonna be our generation’s most important thing that we do."
Additionally, Paul said the session will concentrate on how to help school districts and families affected by virtual learning and other disruptions at school districts, expanding the Grand Parkway through League City and more.